A Teaching from the Annapurna Himal

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Shared from Lynne Andrews

Dear Friends,

During my apprenticeship to Agnes Whistling Elk and Ruby Plenty Chiefs, they took me to Nepal to study with Ani, a Nepalese shaman woman of tremendous power and integrity.

One day I mentioned to Ani that I had been told about a particular healer who was supposed to be very powerful, and I wanted to meet her. When I told her the healer’s name, Ani looked at me like I had lost my mind. Nonetheless, she took me on a bus to a village at the foot of the Annapurna Himal. We went to a square in the middle of the village where others waiting to see this healer, who was sitting on the ground surrounded by an altar of rice cake offerings and candles.

This woman took one look at me and started screaming at the top of her lungs that I was going to be killed, that there was a terrible sorcerer who was after me. I immediately thought of Red Dog and my earliest experiences with Agnes and Ruby, and I became filled with terror. I thought surely I was going to die within moments.

I now know, of course, that she had seen my blond hair and knew by the way I was dressed that I was American and could be of great service to her in terms of money, and she grabbed me by the arm and pulled me into her house.

“I can save you,” she proclaimed loudly, looking at me fiercely, “but you have to bring me three chickens tonight, and you must stay here with me. I don’t want to let you go through the night.”

Seeing how quickly I had succumbed to my fear and knowing that I had no idea that the woman was going to require me to participate in a ritual of animal sacrifice, which would go against everything I stood for in life, Ani nearly exploded. She took me by the scruff of my neck and threw me out of the house. Then she and the village woman screamed at one another in Chepang. Shortly, Ani marched out of the house, grabbed me and said, “We’re leaving.”

“We’ can’t leave,” I protested. “I’m going to die, and this woman is going to save me.”

Ani was furious. She dragged me to the bus stop and didn’t say another word to me until we were about half way back to her home. When the bus stopped for a rest, Ani made us some tea by the side of the road and began speaking in a very quiet voice.

“In your world there was a man named Einstein,” she said.

I was surprised to hear her talking about Einstein and wanted to ask her about it, but she said firmly, “Listen to me, Lynn. Einstein was searching for the truth in terms of numbers, in terms of unity. And finally one day the theory of relativity came to him. When that happens to a person, it means real power has come to the person. When you are filled with real power, you would never even consider harming another life form”

She looked at me intently, and then she said, “If someone is really going to harm you in the way that woman was, they would have to have extraordinary power, which she does not. People who come from the dark side of their nature are incapable of building that kind of power, because great power only comes from the strength and integrity of your relationship with the Great Spirit. Instead, they turn to sorcery. They become dark sorcerers and are very adept at playing tricks with your mind to convince you to turn all of your power and all of your impeccability over to them.

“Always remember this. Sorcerers never kill you. They make you kill yourself.”

At that moment, it became very clear. There was no Red Dog who was going to kill me. There was no ‘sorcerer’ coming after me. All of my fear had come from the fact that I had given away my power to this so-called healer and felt helpless in her presence. I had put it in my mind that I was not worthy of taking care of myself. Thus, when she told me that I was in great danger, I believed her. And that’s why Ani was so angry, after all the work I had been doing with the Sisterhood of the Shields.

“How could you have given away your power to that woman?” she demanded. “You should be ashamed of yourself. It’s your ego that’s getting pushed, and that is a part of yourself that isn’t healed. The best protection that you can ever have is your own vulnerability, so that if someone pushes against you like that, they don’t find you. They just push right through you. There is nothing there, instead of the quivering mass you presented to her.”

That was one of the best teachings I have ever had. As Ani had me look at my own reaction to the situation and find the source of my fear within myself, instead of focusing on the mean things the woman had done to manipulate me, I realized that if I could be pushed around like, it truly did mean that I had a wounded sense of self that urgently needed to be healed.

My teachers always say that we can only learn about ourselves through experience, and throughout my training with them – as in life, itself – there were many times when I was frightened out of my wits. Instead of allowing me to fix the blame for my discomfort on the world around me, they taught me how to look at my own self to find the real source of my distress and what needed to be healed within me. Through these many extraordinary experiences, I learned something that the shamans of old always knew: that in the basic nature of the human condition, even with all of the wonderful differences between us, we really are alike in a very human way. And this understanding has taught me to become the shaman teacher I am today.

Fear comes from the ego mind, and the ego mind is not part of the heart. The heart is filled with love and Divine inspiration; it is the source of good, wonderful, creative emotions in life. When we are in fear, we are not in the heart. We are in our ego mind and, really, our fear has come to show us that there is something in our ego mind that needs to be dealt with, that needs to be identified so that we can heal it.

In the shamanic way of healing fear, you learn how to understand what the true source of the fear is, as opposed to all the scary stories your ego mind is telling you. Once you identify that source – your feelings of low self-worth, no self-confidence, the belief that you are helpless and perhaps even hopeless in the situation – you take what you find down into your heart, where you transform it with the Divine Love of the universe. You transform it into something beautiful, into an integrity of spirit, into an aesthetic.

People so often come to me and ask, “Lynn, how can I protect myself?” As they tell me what it is they believe they need to be protected from, I see their fear, and I also see their potential. I see the lights around them that dance through their fears and negativity. I tell them the story of my experience with Ani and the dark sorceress in Nepal, and what I learned from it about facing my own vulnerabilities in the face of fear. We begin to talk about what it is they really fear, and why they don’t believe they are as strong and capable and worthy as the person who is trying to intimidate and manipulate them.

And then we talk about shamanism, about what we can learn from the Ancients and the vast stores of knowledge and wisdom they collectively birthed into the world through taking responsibility for their own lives in the face of dangers as alien and fearsome to them as anything we face today is to us. What did these people know that enabled them to live in harmony and success on this great Earth for so many thousands of years, that we have forgotten in such a short span of time?

Life is a miracle, my teacher Shakkai said to me. The world is as it should be. It is so hard for us to find our way through the mud, to celebrate the innocence and the seeds of knowledge that we plant there. We must foster those seeds. We must find those seeds and give them life.

Believe in Agnes Whistling Elk’s words: “Remember that the flight is forever. Enjoy it!”

wwww.LynnAndrews.com

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